mardi 30 juillet 2013

Hollow mirrors - Hollow mirrors II

Hollow mirrors is an excellent psychedelic rock band from San Fransisco. I played a lot their first, self titled, album (see HERE my review, with an interview of the band), and their second one, aptly named Hollow Mirrors II, is following the same path. they kept their heavy rock basis (evident in a song like Falling of the hour with its sabbathian riffage in the intro) and the psychedelic colours of their excellent melodies (for exemple in Falling of the hour, definitely a really marvellous song, the heavy riffing marry very tastefully the psyched pinkfloyedesque key parts). but they also added new elements to further enrich their sound. On some of the songs the guitars, the singing, and the overal atmosphere reminds of the more folk/prog (a bit Canterbury style maybe) side of 60' rock, and they bring at times a touch of krautrock. so globally the heavy side is still there but even more than on their first record it's the melodies and the songwriting that appears in the forefront. which is a good thing because they are very strong for that, and the result is really probing. with this new album they take another step in the crafting of their own style and distinguish themselves further from the countless stoner trippy rock band. I recommend very highly this album, very pleasing to the point it gets addictive (and indeed I listen to it evey day since I found it).

check their Bandcamp.

jeudi 25 juillet 2013

All Pigs Must Die - Nothing Violates this Nature (2013)

Mentioning Entombed? OK, that's done. APMD clearly owes a lot to the Swedish masters, and especially for its more trashy and punkier elements than on the traditional old school death metal side. So mentioning Black Breath then? OK, that's done as well…
That being said their new album Nothing Violates this Nature is their best recording yet, with a more powerful sound and more dynamic songs than on God is War I'd say. And anyway people listening to this kind of stuff aren't especially looking for some sonic revolution. We're more looking for some good ol' relentless beatings and heavy dirty riffing. And APMD delivers that with all the power needed. The fast songs make you do "air drumming", the mid tempo songs makes you head bang. So mission accomplished.

Their Myspace.

mercredi 24 juillet 2013

Gatherer - Caught between a rock and a sad place (2013)

Gatherer is a band from New Jersey playing screamo / hardcore music. I had noticed their good and promising demo/EP release in 2012 called Postcards. they are back in 2013 with their first album called Caught between a rock and a sad place and it's even better. I'm not really a connaisseur of this kind of hardcore (usually i'm more into the crust / grinding stuff) so I can't really say precisely to which scene it is related but to me it just sound like good ol' screamo not far from what existed back in the 90'. if you're looking for somehing new you can pass your way but if you're just about to enjoy some heartfelt and passionnate music, simple but catching and moving, then I advise you give it a try. the singing and playing is really good and moreover the band is really excellent at writing cool and memorable songs.

here is their Bandcamp.

lundi 22 juillet 2013

Dead peasants - Demo I

this demo by Dead peasants is really sick and intense, in a way not common. the recipe is black metal riffing with bleak and doomy atmoshperes, ferocious black metal vocals, the drumming goes from brutal (I mean very brutal) burst of grind blast beating from heavy slow parts when they get into a sludgy doomy moments, when you hear very well how the guitar sound is raw and noisy. whatever they do it is in an intense and radical way, very fast with relentless beatings or very slow heavy and noisy as fuck. very radical (a bit like Gaza could be). and thrown in this brtal mix you still can hear some more subtle guitar parts, developping a cold and gloomy feel between the violent outbursts. they also released three song on a split with Ecco.

check this new really cool band. their Bandcamp page.

mercredi 17 juillet 2013

Squash bowels - Grindcoholism (2013)

ah the simple pleasures of life! would be a shame not to enjoy it.. so be sure to check Squash bowels' grindcoholism. grind blast beats. guttural growls and shriekings. death metallic riffing, heavy and primitive grooves. the polish trio, formed in 1994, deliver all that with all the accuracy, speed and power needed. Grindcoholism, released by the excellent Selmadegod records, is their 6th full lenght and it's maybe heir experience that help them to strip their music of any useless subtility. simple but highly pleasing..and addictive!

take your daily dose on their BC page.

dimanche 14 juillet 2013

The black angels - Indigo meadow (2013)

Indigo meadow is the fourth album by The black angels. still excellen but different from their previous work. I'd say it's less dark and heavy, also a bit less psychedelic maybe but more polished, more "classic rock" sounding.
their songs on Indigo meadow sounds like The black angels more than anything but have something that reminds a bit The Doors. which is ok. they show that they can do something different while keeping their high standard of quality. maybe it won't stay as my favourite Black angels album but it's a really enjoyable listen anyway and it's a good thing they are not repeating themselves.

vendredi 12 juillet 2013

Unkind - Pelon juuret (2013)

Unkind is a good d-beat crust band from Finland (with singing in finnish). on their new album called Pelon juuret there is nothing really new but they 're good at putting in their extremely well crafted songs just enough dark melodies, epicness or rock'n'roll feel to get and keep  the listener hooked. that's why chances are it's gonna stay as one of the best record in that style for 2013.

check it on their  BC page.

and read this interview I did by mail with their drummer Saku :

-can you present quickly Unkind and its history up to now?

We're a five piece hardcore band which was formed back in 1997 from the remains of a previous crust band Speedapple. Over the years and through numerous line up changes the priorities started shifting more from just getting wasted to actually put a lot more thought into the material we were making.

-what about your new album, how does it fit in your discography?

It's a continuation of the previous releases with a lot of the same sound but with some newer elements as well.

 -what about the choice of singing in your mother toungue and not in english, is it because it's most natural to you or to be sure every people in Finland understand your lyrics?

It has to be the former because the style of singing doesn't really allow for easy understanding all the time even for the finnish speaking audience. All in all it's the most logical choice for our expression and it also makes for a bit more interesting rhythmics for the vocals. In this sort of music it is mainly a rhythm element after all.

-so which subjects are you dealing with in the lyrics of the songs?

Everything from social issues to coping with personal mental problems. Generally anything that frustrates and angers us at any given moment.

-do you think Unkind could be described as part of the "neo crust" wave, I mean bands basing their sound on classic crust foundations but adding more sophistications and melody to it?

That has been one of the most accurate labels so far and it has stuck with us for years along with other less accurate ones. At least your description is spot on so if the common name for it will stay as 'neo crust' we're ready to settle for it for the time being. It's certainly better than 'Dark-ass Tragedy-core'.

-Relapse released your two latest records but I suppose you are used to more DIY ways of functionning, what differences does it makes to you?

We didn't have to change our way of operating much compared to what it was before. The biggest difference is the immense amounts attention we're able to get through them, but all the work regarding that has always been taken care of by them. Probably the only direct major change is that I have to type out a huge amount of interviews around the releases.

-are your more from a punk or metal background, or both? do you think the differences between the different scenes are blurred nowadays?

We've always more been a part of the punk scene. We're even still having some trouble to get 'accepted' in the finnish metal circles and over the years as our sound got more metallic we got the cold shoulder from some of the punks as well so we've sort of been between a rock and a hard place in that respect for quite a long time. It's constantly getting better for us though and seems we're getting more respect on both sides. Overall the lines are getting thinner as labels like Relapse and Southern Lord have begun to introduce the crustier bands to the metal crowds. Hopefully the two scenes will come together in a bigger way as that's how it started back in the day with most of the thrash and grincore bands etc.

-which bands from your area would you recommend?

For hardcore the best ones at the moment are 'Perikato', 'Remissions' and 'Foreseen', for more blastbeat oriented stuff go for 'Famine Year' and 'Deathtoll80k' and for straight punk rock there can be no better than the mighty 'Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät'. There's also a very vibrant scene of doom-oriented bands of which 'Abbot', 'Ward', 'Dark Buddha Rising', 'Hebosagil' and 'Sink' might be worth mentioning. In addition to that there's a slight rising wave of old school speed metal with bands like 'Speedtrap' and 'Ranger' which both have albums coming out later this summer. Be sure to check them out and almost anything that the more prolific underground labels like Svart Records, Ektro Records and Kämäset Levyt put out.

-any advice for someone wanting to start a punk band, what are the key elements to last and achieve something for a band?

Well the main thing is that nothing is worth doing if it doesn't give you enjoyment of any kind. It can feel really hard especially with the multi-way relationship that bands are but most situations are resolvable if you can keep discussing things openly with your bandmates. Also it makes no sense to write material thinking about what others might like - it should always be about what you want to make and what you need to express. There's bound to be some people who'll enjoy it as well if you are sincere about the material you write.

-what does punk means to you? what do you think about the evolution of punk from its birth up to now, how is it relevant today?

It's one of the last forms of music that has a constant sense social commentary and keeps openly observing the world for what it is. All of rock music and Hip Hop which both used to have that rebellious and enlightened side to them have been chained to the industrial machine which has no place for the 'things no one wants to hear'. I guess punk never had too much market potential apart from the fashion clothing et al. that was pushed through Sex Pistols and the like so it never got stuck in the mainstream. The whole punk music has grown into so many different subcultures of it's own that it has earned it's place as an institution. I just wish more people living the life would do more than get wasted and preach their vision of utopia but the frustration caused by the overwhelming state of the world easily leads to pessimistic nihilism and depression. Overall it's one of the last rebellious elements in the western culture, which could do with far more of those, so hopefully more people will some day take heed of it's example and make a move to change it for the better.

-what is planned for Unkind in the coming months? touring a lot and then writing and recording a new record?

Exactly just as you said we're beginning a finnish release tour 3rd of August and after that we'll come over to europe with KEN mode for a three week run. After that we'll indeed lay low for a while and start planning the next album and possible gigs for 2014.

-a final "full of wisdom sentence" to end the interview?

Let your heart and mind decide what's right for you and the world - not rulebooks made by dead and or corrupt people who hunger for power over you and yours.

dimanche 7 juillet 2013

Horse latitudes - Black soil (2013)

Black soil by Finland's Horse latitudes is one of the best doom records of the time, by a band that get noticed for its original approach to the style. in their third album they dig once again their brand of heavy, slow, primitive and ritualistic doom. after a droning intro the title track starts  very strongly with some huge double bass drums and and then bass guitars, with a lot of power and wild groove. the result is truly amazing and its easily one of my favourite songs of the moment. the excellent drumming, simple but powerfull and the bass put forward in the mix stays a specificity of their sound and adds a lot to the ritualistic vibe of their music (the only guitar parts are bass guitar). the vocals sometimes growled, sometimes melodic in a typical old school doom fashion are really good. some few and discreet keys parts and effects adds to the magic of the atmosphere they devellops. the three long songs on the album are each one excellent and it sure will stay as one of my favourite doom records of 2013.

check it on their BC page.

Vellu, one of the bassist in HL answered to the questions I sent him.
Read it below :

-to start with can you tell us how Horse latitudes was formed and evolved up to now?

Horse Latitudes was formed in 2009. I wanted to play heavy, droning music in the vein of slowed-down Hellhammer and joined forces with fellow bassist and friend Heidi who immediately liked the concept. Soon after Harri came into the fold, in the beginning solely as a drummer, but after a while as our vocalist also. The core concept has remained the same from the start, but there has of course been natural evolution and refining of our sound over time. The latest addition is an analog bass synthesizer, which you can hear on the new album. I handled the synth parts during our recordings, but we have a fourth member who plays the synth parts live, adding some more texture also to the older songs. You could say that nowadays we have three bass instruments in the band, heh.

-was playing with just bass guitars and drums a way to get a more warm, organic sound, to focus on the "physical" side of music, on its pure vibrations?
You hit the nail on the head there. There’s just something very primal about loud bass guitars; you can feel the music as much as hear it. This is all the more evident when playing live! There’s also no room or need for fancy solos or shredding, we only work with the very core of the riff. That’s not to say we don’t like to use modulation or delay effects and such when the song calls from them, but they’re always subservient to the riff and not the other way around. I think the sound of two distorted bass guitars is one of the most pleasing sounds there is. There’s nothing wrong with guitars per se, but I abhor the modern tinny and lifeless “metal” sound so often heard today. It’s the same with drums: Harri always goes for the most barbarian and cavernous sounding drum sounds possible, while at the other end there lies the trigger hell.

-I really like the primitive, doomy element of your music but I also like how you manage for exemple on the amazing title track "black soil" to be really evocative and even epic, even without a lead guitar. what about the writing of this song?

‘Black Soil’ was originally supposed to be an instrumental interlude on our previous album, ‘Awakening’, but at the time we felt that it didn’t fit on the album. The song went through several phases until the whole band was satisfied with it. In fact not a single note of the original composition is left in the finished song. Arrangement-wise we have learned how to better create dynamics with our instrumentation and I think you can hear the results on ‘Black Soil’. I also play some primitive leads when the song calls for it, though I did a little of that on ‘Awakening’ already.

-what about the whole new album?

When we started working on the new album, we agreed early on to include only three songs in order to make it a seamless whole. Compared to our earlier recordings, we took a little bit more time to polish the songs this time and I think it paid off. That’s not to say that ‘Gathering’ or ‘Awakening’ are rushed, but I feel it’s better to work at a slower, more relaxed pace. Regardless, we’re a fairly prolific band, so in the end it took perhaps six months to give the songs their final form.

-what about the lyrics, I read that it's about how human beings are related to nature, can you tell us more?

All the songs on ‘Black Soil’ deal with the same themes from different angles: “Three songs of ends and beginnings”. They’re represented through analogies between physical and spiritual worlds, inner and outer reality, between micro cosmos and macro cosmos. The lyrics of ‘Black Soil’ are meant to dissolve the differences between the physical and spiritual, natural and human reality. The only way for setting oneself free from the restricted view and experience goes through the process getting rid of the denial and escape of the end, as only through acceptance of the ultimate end the essence of life as the infinity of possibilities can be realised.

-have you started to write new songs, have any idea about how the next record gonna be?

We haven’t started working on new material yet, but we did record a few songs in the same session that are not on the new album. One will appear on a yet-unannounced split release, but that’s all we can say for now.

-what is planned for Horse latitudes in the coming month?

In short, nothing. Heh. We’re taking time off as Harri is busy touring Europe with his hardcore punk band Perikato together with Death Toll 80k. They’re very angry and chaotic sounding in the vein of Finnish classics like Kaaos and Kirous. They’ve got a few 7” releases under their belt. You should check them out.

-I have the impression to discover a new good finnish band nearly everyday, is playing music so widespread in Finland? how do you explain the fact that there's so many good band in your country?

I think this phenomenon exists most vividly in small cities in the countryside. There’s very little to do, so you either end up pimping cars or start a band. Harri is from a tiny city near the Russian border, heh. One thing is that the scenes in Finland are very small, everyone knows each other. That can be a good thing, but there’s also a certain herd mentality where suddenly one sub-genre becomes very popular and the scene gets quickly saturated with clones. The current trend has been noise rock, previously it was middle-of-the-road sludge. Who knows what’s next? It used to be a lot more isolated, which explains how bands like Unholy and Thergothon came to be. The good thing about the popularity of down-tuned music in general is that we have had more good bands touring Finland during the last five years or so than ever before.

-what are you listening to at the moment? and which not really well known band would you recommend?

For me it’s been mainly Bong lately. During our UK tour we had the pleasure of staying at the house of Bong’s bass player and we also managed to catch them live in London before we left for Finland. They’re starting to be fairly well known and justly so. As for the recommendation, we played with a band called ‘Of Spire and Throne’ in Edinburgh and they blew me away! I believe they’re normally a four-piece, but they were just three members live. Not that they needed the second guitarist, the sound was immensely massive. They play really barbaric and oppressive sounding doom metal that reminds me of both Corrupted and Winter. How’s that for a refence, eh?

-which evolution would you like to see for underground music in the future?

I’d like to see bands trying to find their own path and not just pay tribute to the classics. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or go for a gimmick, but just following the latest trend is disappointing. Retro-sounding bands are most often boring, if you’ve heard the bands they’re aping that is.

-some final words to close the interview?

Thank you for the interview.

jeudi 4 juillet 2013

Lantern - Below (2013)

With their first album called Below, released by the truly excellent Dark descent records, Lantern (a two man band from Filand) entered the death metal scene in the best way possible (not exactly their first step, they released before a good EP). the album has a big personnality while being firmly grounded in death metal tradition (they prove with style that you can do death metal the old school way without sounding like countless other bands).The vocals are powerfull and with an unusual, very rythmic, flow (reminds a bit Vader vocalist). the drummer keep it simple (often close to D-beat) but is doing just what is fitting the best for the dynamic of the song. the guitar work, often melodic and with many leads, is building strong and dark atmospheres. both morbid and catchy as only death metal can be, this one is going to be one of my favourite of the year in that style.

do yourself a favor and stream it on bandcamp.

Cruciatus, who handle all instruments in Lantern kindly answered to my questions. read it below :
-tell us about the project you had when forming Lantern, was being a band grounded into death metal tradition but doing it a different way a decision you made at the start?

Lantern was formed by me and vocalist Necrophilos in 2007, not too long after my old band Cacodaemon had ceased to exist. The primary agenda was to allow me to continue executing my musical perversions, and to be honest, we weren’t quite sure what would come out of the brew as we began to stir it. The first demo was even somewhat improvised (a method we still apply to our works to some extent), and our sound began to take form - slow but steady. Therefore, our sound was not pre-meditated, not at all. The pieces just fell into place, as we started putting this aural offal together… with as few restrictions as possible.

-do you play or have played in other bands?
Cacodaemon was my main band prior to forming Lantern, which is currently the only band I’m actively playing in. We played simple, straightforward, albeit pretty chaotic old-school death metal… more uncontrolled, one could say. Even though I nowadays think of the past band as a musical apprenticeship preparing me for Lantern, we still had some very good times and, not to forget, good material.

I’ve also spent, what, over 10 years with DTK (Death Thrashers Kuopio), truly a one-of-a-kind thrash metal output, wherein I play the drums. We haven’t been too active lately, although returning to the rehearsal room has been constantly discussed. Other than those two acts, I have been assisting a few mates’ bands on the drum department every now and then… Inhumane Deathcult, Hellboozer Union and Impervious to drop a few names.

-I read that your guitar melodies were influenced by progressive rock. but I think these melodic parts (by death metal standards I mean) don't really mellow your sound but on the contrary stress its raw, grotesque, side. was this blending of melody and rawness something you want to focus on when writing the song. 

I would not say the guitar melodies per se are influenced by progressive rock tunes. The particular genre - as well as all quality music that has changed my aspects musically - has moreover shown me how to do things differently, how to try to break boundaries. I could say progressive rock and the likes have taught me stubbornness, an feat essential to my style of playing and composing, and also essential to every attempt of creating something new / making progress anyway.

I think that the border between melodicism and raw power is very thin in Lantern’s music. A little differently made, this could be very wimpy sounding music, hahah. But something in me keeps this material winding on the raging side, luckily, as death / black metal should never be too subtle. It needs to be comfortably linear and boneheaded. But you know: sheer linear power would not have the same power as the one combined with a bit of thought. You know, the calm only emphasizes the following storm… Fortunately juggling with these particular balance issues is not something I’d need to focus on when writing; it’s quite integral to my way of working nowadays, something music demands to become good, if I were asked.

-these unusual melodies and the "metaphysical" atmospheres in Lantern reminds me a bit of Morbid angel, is it an influence for you or does it just happens that the two bands shares some similarities? 
Altars of Madness was among the first vinyl records I have ever bought, so this connection might be deep-rooted in my brain somehow, although Morbid Angel is not among the top influences for Lantern. Perhaps both us and MA are just primarily inspired by similar things?

-I like how Below is produced in a way allowing to hear clearly all instruments, including the bass. seems to me that the bass is really an element that was really present in the sound of death metal (Cannibal corpse's The bleeding comes to my mind for example) but get often lost in more modern death metal. a comment about it?
Basically, our goal was to cram as much atmosphere into the soundscape as possible, while trying to keep the separate instruments / elements as audible as possible. For you know, the audio engineering duties were handled by the band, except for mastering, which was brilliantly executed by Dan at Resonance Sound – hail!

For some reason, bass has always been one of the most challenging instruments for me to mix. Yet maybe for that reason I have paid extra attention to that department, having the bass become somewhat audible as well. I dislike the idea of having bass as an instrument whose presence can only be acknowledged by muting it out from the mix. I don’t see it that way. I grew up listening to metal where bass had some characteristics, like older Autopsy and Death records.

-I also like how the drumming is simple (at least by death metal standards), but a bit different to the usual death metal drumming parts and really working as something adding some dynamic to the songs. how would you describe your approach to drumming in Lantern? 
I most definitely am not a metal drummer in particular. As described by many, I have a very loose touch for drumming; I tend to jam out and let go of rules and regulations. I guess that’s what happens when you let a natural born lead guitarist hassle in the rhythm department of a band, hahaha. Also, I’m very lucky to have such a great live drummer as J. Poussu, as he plays from a similar basis as I do… only better.

-a few words about the lyrics?

Well, their content varies wildly. Some of the lyrics deal with horror-like fiction (sometimes even faction), while some are written to manifest my unexplainable inner surges / visions / experiences. And it’s all tailored with the riffs for everything to go hand-in-hand and appear as uniform as possible. The lyrical efforts are something I’m very pleased with, so again: I’d endorse people to get to know their content themselves. I don’t want to spoil the texts for anyone by over-explaining them.

-which song on Below is your favourite and why?
If I had to pick one favorite from this album that works best as an entity, I’d say Entrenching Presences, simply because it has some nifty riffage I’m proud of.

-how did you get into death / extreme metal? do you still love it for the same reasons?

I got into metal through friends / typical teenage “social pressure”, I guess, hahah. It was the time black metal was becoming more popular, so that’s where I got my first, easy taste of it all. However, I “strayed” toward bands like Beherit, Impaled Nazarene, Possessed, Motörhead and Judas Priest pretty quickly. And I still love all those bands I discovered back then, even though my musical likings are much wider nowadays. Playing and listening to metal, still, is what feels most natural to me.

-Finland has a lot of great bands, which ones deserves to be more well know in your opinion?
I suppose most people know names such as Desolate Shrine, Corpsessed, Flame, Maveth, Krypts, Lie in Ruins, Profetus, Swallowed etc. But other than those, Mausoleum Gate, Sepulchral Temple, Hellspirit, Brainthrash (to mention a few) are definitely more than worth checking out… and never forget Pyöveli!

-what is the next step for Lantern?
Our next step is to play a good show at Kill-Town Deathfest in Copenhagen / Denmark. After that, we’ll focus on making new songs and start the slow crafting of the subsequent release, whose format is more or less undisclosed at the moment. But whatever the format will be, chances are we might try to record it with a full band instead of a duo. So keep your eyes peeled.

-a final "full of wisdom" sentence to end the interview?

A sentence full of wisdom? Well, maybe that wisdom should lie more in deeds than in sentences? Anyhow, thanks for the nice interview and your interest towards Lantern!

mardi 2 juillet 2013

Kylesa - Ultraviolet (2013)

Through the years Kylesa crafted their unique mid tempo sludge / doom with male /female vocals, tribal elements (a second drummer providing more percussions) and dark psychedelia. On the albums since Time will fuse its worth, they developped the more subtle side of their sound, using more melodies and focusing on building trippy atmospheres, with even some post-punk elements since Spiral shadow. Ultraviolet is their more sabbathian album to date, could also reminds Killing joke, but sounds like an excellent Kylesa album more than anything else. Kylesa confirms once again that their music is really one of the most original and creative way of developing the sabbathian sonic heritage and pushing heavy metal in new directions.

listen to on BC.